I grew up in the small streets of Waycross, Georgia where there was a clear division in the sides of town, dirt roads that you didn’t drive down, and noticeable identities of jocks and band geeks. No matter what, when I looked around me I always knew who to lean on, and other than God, my mom was my strength.
I didn’t live in Cherokee Heights but was fortunate enough to be inside the homes of my cheerleading friends that did. No matter what was lacking in my life on my side of town throughout it all my mom modeled self-sufficiency to the fullest. I learned a lot of things watching her and those things shape my continued existence.
Thing One: Independence
My mom had me when she was 18 years old and my dad was around for a quick minute before he was never thought of again. He made appearances in my life, but my mom set the ground rules. I was a latch-key kid at a very early age so many times I looked after myself until my mom came home from work. Not having others around all of the time, made me rely on myself as I was learning to navigate through life. I studied my mom make things happen for herself and how strong she seemed all of the time. She displayed her independence by going without when we didn’t have what we need and not placing her small family in vulnerable situations that we couldn’t return from. She worked, she paid the bills, food was always on the table, most importantly she survived the social woes of single parentdom.
Thing Two: Provision
In kindergarten I left for school one day and there weren’t any presents under the tree, but when I returned home the tree was full. My god-father had purchased every single toy that I wanted, but of course who could resist my six year old face. However, by the time I was 15 Christmas was not that big of a deal and I found that money was hard to come by. I never really knew my mom’s financial situation growing up. I just knew that sometimes we had and more than what was needed and other times she stretched what she had to cover the necessities. I can recall things being a little tight here and there, and one year for Christmas she uttered the words that she’d do what she could. She was my only provider, and watching her work tirelessly I know she had to be a praying woman because even when money was scarce our needs were always met.
Thing Three: Imperfection
My mom worked crazy hours. While working at a plywood factory called Champion, she would pull 12, up to 16 hour shifts and would come home smelling like wood, mildew, and steam. I hated it! Unfortunately the long hours would be accompanied by mood swings. We disagreed a lot during those few years and I said some pretty horrible things and so did she. Some children look at their moms and see mean women that don’t understand life. I looked at my imperfect mom and loved her with all my heart. My mom was perfectly imperfect, making mistakes raising me, and we we learning and figuring out life together. That’s what happens when you’re an only child, and you work through the imperfect moments to learn a lesson.
Thing Four: Trust
It is true that it takes years to build trust and only a second to lose it. However, I instinctively trust my mom. I can not recall a single time in my life that I doubted who would be here for me. I didn’t want to trust her advice as a teenager because I wanted to make my own mistakes. Growing into an adult in my hardest times, my mom listened to my deepest fears without judgement, hugged me tight, and reassured me that there was always a bright side to every down side. I don’t have to second guess her loyalty. When I am reminded of failed trust relationships, I question if and when I ever had second thoughts about someone being in my life. When I think about my mom I smile and if I think about others and frown, they are not worth my trust. It may seem juvenile, but one thing for sure is that my mom is not going anywhere.
Thing Five: Love
Love is a word that comes and goes, few people really know what it means to really love somebody. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance (1 Corinthians 13: 7). Unconditional support comes from her direction. No matter how many times I feel inadequate, unworthy, and outright lost in my decisions and life, I know that I can count on my mother’s love. I strive to love my children each day as much as she has loved me. I strive to love my neighbor as I love myself. My mother’s love is never-ending, so when people I allow people into my life I’m optimistic. When I hold on to people it is with the kind of love my mom showed me. It’s hard sometimes when you want to shut down, but love is a safe place for me when it comes to her. I in turn want love to be a safe place for my sons when they think of me.
My mom did it alone, but I learned so much.